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Kodiak Athlete Tips To Conquer Moments When The Going Gets Tough

When the going gets tough, how do you keep going? Well folks, we’ve called on a couple of our Kodiak Athletes to give us their two cents on how they conquered their frontier when they faced obstacles on their path. John Collinson, a professional skier from Utah, dives into his personal account of injuries and how he’s navigated through them on a physical and mental level. Then, Erin Huck, Olympic Mountain Biker, discusses her keys for successfully overcoming adversity.

Who better to learn from than two experienced athletes living their dream and doing it well!

Johnny Collinson

Injuries and setbacks have a funny way of inserting themselves into athlete’s lives. I’m not a huge fan of the sentiments and stigmas that surround them, and although they are meant to be positive, they seem to skirt around the issue, or brush it aside. “It is what it is”, “It’s bound to happen at some point” or “It could have been worse” are all true - yet they are closed circuit and don’t allow for dealing with how an injury actually makes you feel.

Every injury is unique, and every person has a different way of navigating the down time. For me, it’s been two back-to-back ACL tears on my right knee, then just as I was getting back into the swing of things, I had a crash that tore my ACL, PCL, MCL, meniscus, and patellar tendon of my left knee. It was a wild feeling to have my lower leg more or less disconnected. The past injuries combined couldn’t hold a candle to what that felt like. 

So yes, it could have been much, much worse, and I feel extremely fortunate for the care I received, and the fact I am even walking on two feet again. That being said- it was important for me to not only appreciate that my accident wasn’t worse, but to also realize how bad it was and try to mentally prepare for what lies ahead. This is where the second saying of “It is what it is” comes in. Yes, this is true, but I feel a better statement for this would be “it is what you make it”. If you sit back and let the injury negatively control your life, it’s going to take over your mental state in a horrible way. If you take control of the injury, it puts you ahead of the curve, and sets you up to find the silver linings that injury always seems to bring. 

Injury for me has always felt very personal. My reality is altered, and it isn’t up to anyone else to make it better or try to feel my pain. Nobody else will know what you are going through except you. Even someone with the exact same injury is going to have a different story of how that injury feels. In that way, injury has helped me find (what I’d like to think is) inner strength to some degree. Knowing that only you have the physical power to get through the surgeries, pain, and therapy, made the fire burn hot for me. The key piece for me in this though wasn’t retreating in myself and shutting people out but trying to feel comfortable in the fact that I know I can put the time in and enjoy the process as best I can. 

I would hope to never have an injury again myself, and wish no one had to go through injuries, but on the other hand, nothing has taught me more than the recovery process. It’s a special process that can shape your future in many different ways. Looking forward to seeing everybody out enjoying the snow this winter and remember - enjoy every turn you get to make!

Erin Huck

As an elite athlete, I’ve had my fair share of setbacks and adversity to navigate in pursuit of my goals. From injuries, to illness, to surprise demands in life outside of sport; these hindrances can derail and potentially prevent you from achieving what you had set out to do. But I’ve also found that by treating these challenges as obstacles, and not roadblocks, I’ve become a stronger athlete and have achieved things I initially didn’t think possible. Here are a few tricks I employ to help me move past setbacks:

  • It’s only a failure if you don’t learn from it. Regardless of the obstacle or challenge-I try not to dwell in the past…it happened, I can’t change it, and spending time and energy wishing I could go back and change it won’t help me move forward. What WILL help is to identify why it happened and learn from that. A personal example is when I fractured my ankle pre-riding a course days before a significant event. It was a stupid crash that resulted in a devastating injury and impacted my goal of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics in 2019. What I learned from it was: don’t pre-ride a course the day after arriving in a foreign country in a different time zone, and don’t be overly confident when riding a course for the first time. 
  • Focus on the positive. Negativity sucks your energy and has physiological impacts on your body’s ability to heal, recover, and focus. If you can think positive thoughts and maintain an optimistic outlook, your body has a better chance of doing what it’s supposed to. In my situation, I focused on the opportunities I had to still qualify for the Tokyo Olympics within the 2020 season (prior to COVID happening of course). I told myself this recovery time would allow me to rest, build motivation, and come into 2020 firing on all cylinders. I believe this helped me heal quicker than anticipated and enabled me to be back racing at the end of 2019.
  • Set incremental and achievable goals. Setting small goals gives you something to focus on, and by accomplishing those goals you get a sense of progress which helps maintain that positive outlook. After a series of ankle surgeries, I was non-weight bearing for over 3 months. One of my first goals after surgery was to break a sweat using one of those Airdyne® Assault bikes with just my arms. It was a silly goal, but it felt so good to sweat and feel like I was doing something. I would gradually increase the challenge level of my goals and sometimes they would be too ambitious. After already experiencing success, I had the confidence to accept that I might’ve missed my goal this attempt but next week I would achieve it. This step-by-step mentality helped me get back on track and ultimately move past this setback that could’ve been a career-ending injury.

How do you conquer your frontier when the going gets tough? Share your stories with us on Instagram by tagging @kodiakcakes or email us at

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